When the producers of the BYUtv sketch comedy show “Studio C” uploaded “Top Soccer Shootout Ever With Scott Sterling” to its YouTube channel in November 2014, they never dreamed it could possibly rack up more than 32 million views.
Their most popular video up until that time, “Peeta’s Song,” one of a trio “Hunger Games” musical parodies they posted two weeks earlier, hadn’t yet crossed the million-view threshold.
“We released [“Top Soccer Shootout”] on a Friday, just like we do any other video,” “Studio C” co-creator and producer Jared Shores told VideoInk. “It was getting just above average traction on that day and going into Saturday. It wasn’t until the following Monday that we saw some real explosive traction happening.”
“We broke a million, then two million, then three million [views],” Shores said. “It was kind of this wild ride for that full week. We were just watching the real time stats, thinking, wow.”
The video starts off so subtly that it could be mistaken for a clip of a real soccer match. But the increasingly over-the-top play-by-play by the British-accented commentators as goalie Scott Sterling (played by “Studio Co” co-creator Matt Meese, who also scripted) takes repeated — and increasingly brutal — shots to the head quickly reveals its true identity as a parody.
Shores doesn’t know why “Top Soccer Shootout Ever” did so well, although it’s clear it didn’t hurt that soccer (or football, as it is more commonly known outside the U.S.) is the world’s most popular sport.
The core audience for “Studio C” itself is niche in nature — the Mormon community. Launched in 2012, the show is an outgrowth of Divine Comedy, a troupe sponsored by Brigham Young University, which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as is BYUtv.
But, Shores insisted, “our goal from the beginning has to be more than, hey, we’re making content just for Latter-day Saints.”
The BYUtv channel is available on more than 600 cable and satellite systems around the country, as well as via apps for Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and iOS and Android devices, but neither it nor “Studio C” — which launched its sixth season last month — are household names on par with “Saturday Night Live.” And although “Top Soccer Shootout Ever “ is edgy in its own way, it was designed to fit the “Way Funny, But Still Family Friendly” motto of “Studio C.”
“The goal of Studio C and the network is to bring families together in watching content, rather than having families separate into different rooms, with kids on their iPads while the parents are in their room watching something else,” Shores said.
In the wake of the breakout success of “Top Soccer Shootout Ever,” “Studio C” did a few follow-ups (“Goalkeeper Scott Sterling Gets a Christmas Present,” “Matt’s Revenge: Scott Sterling Strikes Back,” “Scott Sterling Breaking News Update”), the most successful of which has received just under 1.7 million views — not bad, but a far cry from the original’s numbers
But, no matter how you look at it, “Studio C” has done very well by Scott Sterling. This time last year, the Studio C YouTube channel had just over 100,000 subscribers. Today, it has more than half a million, along with more than 240 million views, more than 100 million of which have come in the last year. It’s currently averaging about 13 million views a month.
But, as tempting as it may be, Shores said they’re reluctant to milk the Scott Sterling phenomena too much.
“For us, we’ve always been more concerned about consistency than we are about virality. Because in this crazy digital media space, you can never really hedge your bets on what video is really going to spike and how to put more eggs in that basket than another,” Shores said. “The last thing I want to do as a creator is to have a majority of the fan base say, ‘I wish they would’ve just left Scott Sterling alone’ or ‘That wasn’t as funny as the original,’ because you never want to feel like you’re baiting them.”